Saturday, 23 March 2013

Tell Me What You Want ... What You Really, Really Want!

I was in an op shop, and I saw a pair of clogs! They were powder blue and the sweetest clogs. Instantly, I was transported back to my childhood!

My friends and I have spoken before about things we wanted as kids, but never got. Sometimes, we were given "versions" (probably cheaper!) of the things we actually wanted! My mom was so earnest in this, and I was so afraid of hurting her feelings, that I never showed the disappointment I felt.

My own children have no such concern for my feelings! They indicate their wants and needs with frightening alacrity. I'm on the fence about whether that is a good thing or not. Sometimes, I think what we didn't get as children helped define our sense of what we wanted as adults. Perhaps, it helped develop an understanding that we had to "work" for things we wanted, that we weren't just entitled to them because we wanted them! On the other hand, I think that sometimes getting exactly what you want as a child can be a good thing. It reinforces the positivity that comes with believing life does, on occasion, work out! That life can deliver the goods!

So, I wanted to write this blog as sort of a tribute to those childhood things I wanted, but didn't get. Which brings me back to the clogs! The ones I lusted after were leather and sleek and oh-so-stylish. Instead, my mom bought me a faux denim pair that were adorned with huge gaudy flowers and red laces! My toes used to hang over the edge and I could barely walk in them. I must have been a sight in my flares, my tube top and "clogs"!

I have to admit I was a bit of a tomboy as a kid, and I developed an enormous crush on a toy called a Big Wheel. This was an incredible piece of 70s' engineering ... a low-slung plastic tricycle, with a "hand break" you could pull to spin out! A bunch of kids in the neighbourhood had Big Wheels and I begged my mom for one. I didn't get a Big Wheel, but I did get an orange plastic skateboard! It might have been okay, except that all of our roads had gravel, and the wheels on the skateboard would get stuck, catapulting you off the skateboard and onto the asphalt!

Another item high on my wish list was a denim jacket. I really really wanted a denim jacket. This time, my mom bought me a mustard-coloured jacket in the "style" of a jean jacket! It went well with the two-tone shoes my dad had previously bought me because they were the only ones in the store that fit me, and he was too impatient to get me a proper pair of shoes. No word of a lie, these shoes were half-red and half-blue! They looked like bowling shoes. Even my mother looked horrified when she saw them. Perhaps, she imagined the mustard-coloured jacket would take the focus off the clown shoes.

Other coveted items included an Etch A Sketch, a Lite-Brite (which my cousins had!), and a proper Barbie doll. I have to say that I did get to use an Etch A Sketch much later on, as an adult, and was completely frustrated by how little I could actually "draw" using straight lines!! Architecture was clearly never going to be a career option for me. 

My mom, in her attempt to support her rather fluctuating feminist views, was completely opposed to buying me Barbie dolls. I wasn't a huge doll person myself, but ALL my friends had Barbies and ALL they did was play games involving Barbie. I had enough social issues, I NEEDED Barbie as currency. I thought my luck had changed when I went to a garage sale hosted by a friend of my mom's. This woman was an artist and apparently not concerned with how Barbie might warp her daughter's perspective on life. Her daughter was grown up now and she was prepared to sell me her whole collection ... kit and caboodle. You can't imagine my excitement at being presented with a mysterious leather case, apparently filled with Barbies and clothes. My mom relented. I was about to be initiated into social acceptance. I opened the case and could feel my face begin to burn, the tears pricking my eyes. These Barbies were ancient! They were practical, brown-haired dolls with conical breasts rivalling Madonna's infamous costume. The clothes they came with were tailored, conservative numbers, befitting secretaries and teachers. These Barbies were biding their time in offices until they could marry and have children, until they could become the housewives they were always meant to be. 

I accepted the case with as much grace as I could muster. I took my Barbies to my friends' houses, and tried to "modernise" them as best I could. Unfortunately, I couldn't dress my Barbies in any of the modern clothes. Nothing would fit over their very pointy breasts. My social currency was counterfeit!  

It wasn't all bad news, though. There were some toys I begged for and actually received! Two standouts were the pogo stick and the Easy-Bake Oven. Sadly, I bounced a few times on the much-anticipated pogo stick, only to discover that it promptly gave me a headache, and it was actually really boring! The Easy-Bake Oven was much more of a success. The only problem being that you cooked with a LIGHTBULB!! I can remember making my family eat the "cakes"! The fun really began when I ran out of the "official" cake mixes and started experimenting on my own. I loved my Easy-Bake Oven, but it didn't love me!
Generic child with her Easy-Bake Oven!

All of these experiences did teach me valuable lessons. They shaped me as a person! As long as my future career didn't involve straight lines, excessive bouncing, fashion, road racing, or cooking, I knew I would be on the right track!!

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